Published on August 26th, 2011 | by Asa Spades0
Asa Spades RC
Coming To RollerCon 2011: Asa Spades’ Travelogue
I first heard of RollerCon in January of 2011 through my Amsterdam Derby friend Furrrocious. Admitted, I didn’t completely grasp the concept, but I did get ‘five days of Derby in Vegas’ and I didn’t need anything more. I got online, got a ticket (courtesy of M. who kindly let me use his credit card for this purpose) and waited for the RollerCon website to come alive.
Somewhere in March I found the website buzzing with requests for all sorts of volunteers. I figured it would be THE ultimate way to get to know people, to get to know the venues and what this whole RollerCon thing was all about. As I am never one for moderation I applied as an EMT, Registration Volunteer and Announcer. And while I was at it, I enrolled myself and my derby fiancée for the derby weddings. Because I could.
And then July came ‘round, and it was time to go and dip myself in the experience that is RollerCon.
Coming to RollerCon – The Long Road To Sin City
Friday morning, July 22nd, I wake before my alarm goes off. Now why does that never happen when I have to go to work?
I go through customs in a jiffy, and proceed to the gate. As it turns out, checking in started at my gate. I worry about my skates being in my carry-on luggage. What if they make me check my bag? I heard from a friend traveling to Stuttgart that had to check the skates as they were possible weapons. I laugh at the image of me wielding the skates above my head trying to get seat upgrades.
Nobody even pays attention to the skates. When in Houston, going through customs, the officer asks me what I’ll be doing in Vegas. ‘Roller Derby’ I blurt. ‘Roller Derby?’ He squints at me, measuring ‘They still do that? Like in the seventies? Really?’ I start a monologue about flat track derby and rules and regulations and… ‘You can go ma’am.’ Right…not everyone is as passionate about this as you are. Obviously.
When I get to my seat I try to wrestle my bag under the chair in front of me. Ignoring the all too obvious fact that it is too big, I turn it, kick it, turn it again, stomp on it, turn it again. The guy next to me gestures he’ll put it in the overhead for me. I reluctantly shove the bag towards him. ‘It’s heavy, there’s skates in there.’ He smiles ‘Roller derby?’ I look at him surprised. ‘What gave it away?’
He points at my arms. ‘Let’s say you fit the picture, tough looking, skates, tattoos. You don’t look like a normal skater.’ I make a face. He goes, ‘Let me rephrase that, I didn’t mean to say normal. What’s normal? Let’s just say that you have a way of expressing yourself a lot of other people don’t.’ I laugh as he blushes. He continues ‘I guess all I am saying is that I am happy not to have to share this place with a big fat stinky guy.’ ‘Or with a kid’ I say. He nods. We don’t speak again.
When in Vegas I find it soothing that there are slot machines the minute you get off the plane. Yup, I know this place. I go out to find a cab. There is a huge line. I am sweating already. It takes me half an hour to get a cab. I want M. I want my bed. I want to be home out of the warm desert wind that feels like someone is constantly pointing a hairdryer, set at high heat, in your face.
Whip, the only league mate that is also coming to RollerCon texts she only came in now as she has been delayed for hours as well. Her roommates are all sleeping. We decide to meet for breakfast. I drop into bed. I am here. I am in Sin City.
Day One – Getting Climatized
I wake to the sound of a phone. But not mine. I look around and find the room phone is ringing. ‘Met Rhea’ I realize that might not make sense to an American. I cough. It’s Whip ‘Honey, are you still asleep?’ Well technically I am not, but I do want to sleep more. ‘Yeah, I am…’I grunt. They are going out for breakfast. I tell her I’ll let them know when I am part of this world again. I drop back into the pillows. My body feels tired. Need. More. Sleep.
Hours later, feeling rejuvenated, I text Whip to see where they’re at. They just went down to the HardRock café to have lunch. I know where that is, it’s a fifteen minute walk from the hotel.
When I get to the HardRock café the girls have finished their lunch. It is good to see them. I order a cocktail.
Sometime later we head to the pool. The water is cold but soothing. I push Buttblock around the pool, while she lays on a lilo. We catch up on stories and smile at how one derby try out in July last year brought her here to get married to her derby wife. Life is funny that way.
Day Two – Out With The SuckerBunch!
I meet up with the girls in front of my hotel. All wearing our SuckerPunch sponsored tanktops (Thank you Miss Miyagi!)
We immediately set off for Hooters. Yup, that’s right Hooters.
We moved on towards the restaurant as we were starving. There was a huge line. But after some 20 minutes we were seated and we could order.
But picking out food and drinks was harder than it seemed…
Everything looked so good…
Even things that weren’t really on the menu.
Picked and chosen…
Of course my fiancée had to show off…
…much to Whippin’ Red Sirens amusement.
That cleavage is worth -at least- a hundred bucks!
Our waitress had high hopes… ;P Or she just thanked us for leaving…also possible.
After dinner we took a walk through Planet Hollywood as we were stopped by a group of guys that were derby crazed -or so they claimed while doing little claps and yelps of excitement- and wanted to do jello shots with us. We didn’t take the shots but we did take a picture with them.
When we left they screamed after us; GO SuckerPunch! SuckerBunch! YAY! Woooohooo!
Mission for tomorrow; getting my blindingly white legs a tan and swim a bit. Before I know it my days will be crammed with Derby, Derby, Derby! Looking forward to that!
Day Four -Jumping In With All Clothes On
I get dressed and packed and checked out of the lovely light Tropicana. My cab dropped me off in the womb of the Riviéra, where you park underground. My first shift at the registration desk was coming up, I had no clue where to go, couldn’t get into my room yet, as my roomy wasn’t arriving ’till one, and now was stuck with luggage and no clue whatsoever.
The bell man obviously saw my confusion and stress and came up to me and asked; ‘Are you ok honey?’ I asked if they had lockers for bags. He told me no. But offered to keep them in his office. I was reluctant. What if this guy sold my skates? Wore my panties? Then again I really didn’t have a choice. He wrote me a note stating he promised to give me my bags when I came to collect them, and I went up in the elevator towards the lobby. And immediately got lost.
While wandering through the casino in search of signs that said RollerCon or Convention or anything remotely like that, I stumbled upon Hunter S. Toss Em. I asked him if he knew where I had to go. And luckily he did. Though, to be honest, his directions were; ‘Where did everyone go? Oh well, just walk that way and you’ll stumble upon it in no time.’ They worked though.
So I found the registration office and got in line. While waiting I looked to my left and saw another familiar face. It was Furrrocious! We hugged and decided to go get coffee after registration. As I still had some time until my first shift.
When I signed up for my first shift at the registration desk, wearing my nifty purple shirt -yup, purple, people, one of my least favorite colors- things were hectic. I got shoved next to a nice -and thorough it turned out- girl that showed me the ropes.
Soon I was swinging that administration like I had no other passion in the world. In the meantime the nice girl had left, and I was paired up with Axl Rolls. We immediately hit it off, singing, dancing, joking, handing out buttons and stickers (he seemed to have endless rations of in his pockets) and time flew by. We got off early as there were no more people to register for that day.
While at the desk, my roommate Sweetie had come to give me my room key and number, so right after the shift I went down to find the guy that took my luggage. Who was nowhere to be found. Great. After pleading and bargaining with the ‘new’ guy I got my luggage back. I swore I would never ever trust a bellman ever again.
When I got to the room, Sweetie was there, with one of her teammates, drinking vodka and sprite. She had put a nice little gift bag for me on my bed. A zipped hoodie, a shirt, a cup holder AND a reflecting backpack to skate with at night. I immediately felt like a bum with the sad swag I sported. I dug up her shirt and promotional pack and hoped she wouldn’t hate me for not having so much stuff to give her.
Luckily I really didn’t have time to think about that, as I was due for the EMT meeting in another tower of the hotel. When I came in, I was immediately given a vodka and cranberry drink, and that pretty much did me in. I was there, delighted to meet everyone -EMT crew ROCKS!- but that drink hit me so hard I could have fallen asleep right then and there, drooling all over the lovely sofa.
Day Five – I Work, Work, Work It! (and do some fishing at the end).
At 4:30 in the morning I get a text from Whip. The roster for announcing is finally done, and I am the alternate announcer the very first challenge bout at RollerCon. At 10 in the morning. There is supposed to be a ‘Team Mouth’ pow-wow at nine, so we decide to see each other there. I go back to sleep.
When I wake Sweetie’s bed is empty, and her EMT bag is gone. So she made it to the early shift. For some odd reason all sense of dress has left me in this heat ridden, derby butt-supporting place and I decide to wear short shorts, a SuckerPunch tank top and flip-flops. That may not sound very daring, but trust me, in Rotterdam M. is the only one that will see my cottage cheese legs without form supporting leggings or tights.
So, scantily clad, I Jell-O my way down to the convention hall where I find Whip and some of the other announcers waiting for the pow-wow that would never be. Long story short; within fifteen minutes I find myself in the skybox, coaching Kali Kat who is announcing for the very first time. She did really well! After that I finally meet Val Capone, the Team Mouth manager. I am a little intimidated, I must admit.
But there is no time to dwell, for I need to get going and get dressed for my shift at registration.
I find my choice of attire is not a smart one, for my short shorts cannot prevent my cheese thighs from sticking together and really irritating the living sh*t out of me.
The registration shift I am lucky enough to share with Whip and Axl, who hands me some more free swag -T-shirt yay!- and …
Again we have a blast, singing and dancing and making jokes with the people that come in, but now I find my legs are starting to hurt from all the standing up. I really want a chair, but am also afraid that I will not want to get up, and there is still a five-hour shift of EMT waiting for me!
Before I go to my EMT shift, Buttblock and Whip pimp my way too big generic EMT shirt, ’till there is not much more left than an a strip of clothing. It does get me loads of compliments, so I guess they did a good job.
My EMT shift is really mellow, no huge injuries, but the hall I am in is FREEZING! When The Hot Flash comes in to teach her class and finds me shivering, she stays true to her name and has her husband bring me one of her sweaters to wear. That’s derby love!
When my shift is done at 11 pm, I find Buttblock and head out to buy me a sandwich and some potato chips as I am STARVING. When we are done we wander through the casino on our way to the pub where there is supposed to be a ‘pants off, dance off’ night hosted by The Vagine Regime.
On our way there we stumble upon Furrrocious sitting behind a one-cent slot machine. Apparently Dr No-No explained to her how this gambling thing works and since then she has been sitting behind this -John Wayne themed, important detail- machine, having complementary cocktails. She is currently up 70 bucks!
And it is all downhill from there. I will not go into detail, but the ‘gambling thing’ is contagious. Soon Buttblock and I are with Furrr yelling at machines and slowly but surely losing money. Then Whip joins us, and even she is not saved from the virus. There is this one particular machine that you can play four people at the time -ideal for us!- that will, in case you hit a bonus, let you fish for bucks. There is a huge screen above the machines that will show your fisher man or woman in a boat, and you cannot really do anything but wait, but soon we are yelling at the screen, like we can coach our fisherboat over the line towards the big fish.
*For all those moms, husbands and friends reading this, do not be concerned. Yes we lost, but no we did not lose huge amounts of money. Remember, we were playing one cent machines*
We get more free drinks. I order a Corona -my choice of drink while gambling, obviously- and BAM! I am a happy drunk. Yes, it took only one beer to turn me into an obnoxious, yelling, idiot that suffers from uncontrollable laughing fits. Now that I re-read this, I wonder if it really was the beer, not just me. 😉
After awhile we decide to head for bed. I am announcing tomorrows first challenge bout, and the girls have a lot of lessons to attend. I am not sure I remember where to go in this dark, cave-like hotel, but Furrr generously takes my arm and leads me to the elevator. Still giggling we both decide it was the best night of RollerCon, so far.
Day Six – Things Keep Getting Better!
I wake before the alarm goes off -again; Why NEVER at home? – and start to get ready. Today will be my first day announcing head mic. I get to do the Medium Rare vs Leafy Greens challenge bout, and I want to be there early so I have some time to get breakfast and exercise my pokerface. Because in real life I am shitting myself.
When I get there it turns out my co-host isn’t gonna show, but as by miracle Deuce Bagalow is there and she and I decide to just take it on. She will cover Leafy Greens and I will take Medium Rare.
Time flies by. Afterwards I have no clue whether I’ve done well or not, I just know I had fun. Throughout the day I get a lot of compliments, so I must’ve done something right. I am one happy camper, ready to announce some more tomorrow!
The EMT shift is reasonably mellow again, most of the work is ankle taping, there is one girl that falls and hits a skate with her chin, but that is the most spectacular thing happening. This time I did bring a sweater so I am not cold. The classes I am EMT-ing at are amazingly scary, the advanced girls here skate so fast and their hits are REAL hits. Even though I am not allowed to participate while in function I learn so much by just watching these girls. And the coaches are all AMAZING, I cannot begin to tell you how awesome it is to watch them teach.
After my shift I hurry upstairs to put on my pajamas, as it is time for the Riedell Pajama Rama Party. They will raffle off $5000.00 worth of skate gear, and I want to get me some of that!
I could try to describe how awesome it was, but I guess you can judge for yourself!
Tomorrow will be the first day I actually get to skate. I better get rested. So I am off…time to catch some Z’s.
Day Seven – Why I Need To Get Back In Shape
This morning I was announcing the first challenge bout. As I am a woman of rituals and regularity -yes, I’ve said it- my RollerCon mornings are all pretty much the same. I wake up at eight. Sit and look dazed ’till about nine. Realize I am getting late. Shower, get dressed and make sure to leave the room at 9.20. Rush downstairs, get coffee and a fruit salad, run upstairs to the announcers room and sit down with my ‘I-have-been-here-for-hours-where-were-you?’ face and wait for the first challenge to start. So this day was no different.
The challenge was fun, as they all are, some teams are mixed, so you will see some huge guys getting hit by tiny girls, or girls known for their jamming getting passed by a guy. The mood is mellow and friendly, and they are a lot of fun to work with.
After the announcing I was going to take an exam. (Let this sink in people). Yes, an exam. As WFTDA and AFTDA are now certifying their announcers, I was offered to get certified. So of course I jumped at the opportunity.
The lovely and gentle Vince Hannity handed me the papers, told me I could take as long as I wanted, and really made me feel like this was do-able. But when I glanced at the first page, I knew I was gonna flunk. Big time.
It shouldn’t really have been a surprise that the first half of the test was all about derby rules, ref gestures and all that stuff that I yell a lot about, but do not know by heart. It had a whole page of just hand gestures. Seriously I KNEW I would look an idiot. Vince, who must have read my face, assured me I would not be kicked off of Team Mouth in case I flunked. That was at least some consolation.
So I got myself a fresh coffee and got to writing. The second half of the test was all about announcers code of conduct, which I was not even aware of existed -I know I am such a fool with my, off the fly attitude sometimes- but that half I felt a lot more confident about, as, to me, the questions were all to do with common sense.
After a good hour I handed my test back to Vince, stuttering something abut test-anxiety (I make ’em up as I go) hoping that would slightly make up for my obvious lack of knowledge. Vince started grading right away, meanwhile explaining why my answers were wrong (as most of them in the first half were). Though I had foreseen this happening, it was still shaming.
The second half on the other hand, I aced! Much to his surprise as well. 😉 But as certification cannot be based on half the test, I missed out. Vince, being the sweetheart he is, told me it was good that I now knew what to work on (RULES PEOPLE, RULES!) and assured me next time I would attend a big WFTDA event, I would be able to take the test again. (So that would be what…next year?) Anyways, I know what I have to do now. I need to get studying!
So with that disappointment in my pocket it was time to work with my body. I had finally gotten the afternoon off, so I scheduled to go to three classes. The first one being the Roller Derby Workout. An off skate class, continuing where the Roller Derby Workout Challenge ended. It was a nice mild practice, that I could easily keep up with, so of course I felt over confident after that. The next class was off skate cross training to be a better derby player. Seriously, that one killed me. At the end I was panting away, red faced, out of breath, and sweaty in places I’d rather not mention.
But as time was scarce and I really wanted to take advantage of this day, I continued to a beginners derby class; skate pretty first, then skate derby. And guess what; skating pretty does take effort. So after those three classes, I was exhausted.
So after that I ran upstairs and took a quick shower before going to my EMT shift for the day. As the Black And Blue Ball would start right after my shift, I decided to get dressed in my dance attire -which was anything but fancy, but at least blue- and just throw my EMT shirt over it.
The shift was really nice, I got to take a lot of notes on really rad classes, no big injuries, so all good!
By then it was time for the Black And Blue Ball, held by the pool. I made my way down there and was amazed at how many people were there!
All of them dressed in black and/or blue.
Later, Val Capone our head announcer and manager, came and sat next to me.
She asked me to announce the DNN bout tomorrow at noon, stating; ‘I just think you have a great voice, are really easy to work with, and as I am playing that bout, I want an announcer that I don’t have to shake my fist at during the game.’ She made me blush. And again, of course I jumped to the occasion, telling her I would love to do it. Which was the absolute truth. We said our good-byes, and as Whip kissed me goodnight she patted my head and said; ‘Go to sleep, go dream about announcing!’ Which I set off to do.
Day Eight – F*ck Yeah!
This morning I am announcing a challenge between Fresh Meat and Green Horns. I am luckily paired up with the lovely Deuce Bagalow (seriously, I have developed a small crush there, she has the mildest friendliest air about her) and we have fun comparing pinks to greens. 😉
After some shopping at the vendors ground (AWESOME STUFF) I make my way to the announcers room for the full hour lunch bout between team Rap and Rock. Of course I am doing Rock (I mean, come on, what’d you think?). My co-host Chip Queso brought me a lovely zebra striped tie and some skull clip-ons to dress up with, while he is shiny from all the fake bling he’s wearing. Tara Armov -LEGEND- is there with us too.
The first half Chip and me are mic one and two, giving a game play by play, while Tara does mic 3 (sponsoring, and fun facts). For the second half Tara and I trade places. It is overwhelming. I am shitting myself, but also really enjoying the ride. Afterwards Chip gives me some really helpful tips, which I decide to take back with me to Holland, as this was the last bout I’ll be announcing in Vegas.
While my head is still full of all the impressions and I am on an adrenaline high, I get some lunch and go for my EMT shift. The first class is about Pivot and Jammer skills. Wow! I mean; WOW! I wrote as fast as my hand could, stumbling over words, but still managing to make some intelligible notes.
The second class in my room is called; The Pivot; the glue to being 5 strong. It is awesome and makes me want to move to San Diego and join their team. NOW.
When my shift is done, I want to go upstairs to get something to eat and then get dressed for my wedding, as I am marrying my derby wife Sandra Buttblock tonight. But before I am even close to the doors, my EMT manager, Mister Sister, stops me. He tells me I have to go up, Val is looking for me. He looks really serious. So me being me, I freak out immediately. I am sure I have f*cked up during the lunch bout. I must have said something inappropriate, or weird and now I will have to pay.
I run as fast as I can towards the announcers room and still panting I tap Val on the shoulder. ‘You were looking for me?’ ‘Yes, please sit down.’ Oh my god, she asks me to sit down. I am so dead right now. ‘You know there is a big WFTDA officiated bout going on tonight?’ (Hell yes, I know! I have been stoked all day, knowing I’d get to see it!) ‘I want you to announce it.’ I feel I am blushing deeply.
I stutter something I don’t even know what I mean. ‘I think you have done a great job, I heard great things about you from the vets, I trust you completely I want you to do it.’ I am trying so hard not to scream or do my silly ecstatic horse dance right now. I somehow manage to tell her I am honored, I will do it, and will be there in time. And then I dash off outside, to bum a cigarette off of someone, I am so freaking out I NEED to smoke.
So I am third mic on this really important game between Denver and Bay Area. Joe Mama -I know, it made me snicker too- is doing Denver and Dumptruck -that guy has a voice, seriously, you want to take him home and have him announce every single thing you do.- will be for Bay Area where I will fill up the 10 second gaps and timeouts with sponsorships and Euro derby talk.
The game is awesome! Please go check it on-line. There is some fierce crazy stuff going on there. Exiting to the point where I really feel and remember why I have chosen to give up my life for derby again, but also slightly discouraging when you see how great these girls are, I only know we have a looooooong way to go in Rotterdam.
So after the bout I bump into my wife to be Sandra Buttblock in the hall. She is looking stunning with her golden booty shorts and as she so sweetly states ‘naked top’ (it is not naked, she just cannot wear a bra under it, so it’s…naked ;P). I apologize for my lack of dress up, which, being the sweetheart she is, she immediately forgives me, and we set off for the top of Riviéra room to get hitched.
There is a hallway with 8 elevators in the building, and still there is a line that goes all the way back to the pool entrance. After a good 20 minutes we finally reach the top floor where we are greeted by Whip, who has been helping to get the room ready. So how was the marriage? This is how:
Day Nine – Last Day!
What I thought would be a relatively mellow last EMT shift turned out to be the most hectic shift I’ve had until now!
To sum it up;
Lots of twisted ankles, swollen knees, a couple of nosebleeds, a case of severe dehydration, a concussion, and a scary fall with what looked like a possible neck fracture, but what turned out to be -thank the lord- a good hit with a concussion for Rex Havoc. I had a lot of help from San Diego’s Hose Her Down, who is awesome and probably could have done it all without me. And of course Sweetie who has really worked her butt off this week and was always at the right place at the right time. Oh heck, every single EMT, volunteer, announcer, manager, ref and helping hand at RollerCon was amazing. Thank you so much for making this week the so much more than I expected!
Later, Whip and I wander through the casino, crazy tired, on our way to get after dinner coffee and tea. When we get near the pub, we are stopped by WundaMike, who is talking to some other announcers and EMT’s. We hear of an announcers party at the DNN suite, so off we go!
The suite has a nice living room set up, with a bar AND they had Rockband installed! (Courtesy of Hurt Reynolds). Soooo with free drinks, the best people ever in the house AND music to play, the party soon is on its way. Best quote of the night, according to Buttblock:
“That is not a mic stand, those are my boobs!”
Sadly, I had to leave early as my flight is due early tomorrow morning, and though I am already sad that RollerCon is over, I am also very ready to go home. Soon, I will be back home, missing Vegas, but on my way to help making Derby as huge in Holland as it is in the states…
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